Green Office SLEUTHs

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Green Office SLEUTHs

Overview

Green Office SLEUTHs* is a joint project of SIU's Sustainability Office and the Advanced Coal and Energy Research Center. A signup process for offices will be opening soon.

For students, Green Office SLEUTHs is a semester-long externship for undergraduate or graduate students in any major. Students can earn $500 and a certificate at the completion of the assignment. SLEUTHs will work with campus offices on "energy treasure hunts," and help implement programs to increase energy efficiency, recycling and conservation. 

An "energy treasure hunt" at one or more offices on campus will be conducted as part of the program. Read on below for more about energy treasure hunts that have been conducted in corporate and university settings. The Green Office SLEUTHs treasure hunts will be customized for our campus environment.

For more information contact Amy McMorrow Hunter, amcmorro@siu.edu, (618) 453-7327.

*Student-Led Energy-Use Treasure Hunts. Yes, we are acronym animals.

Introduction to "Energy Treasure Hunts"

Efforts that include 1) facilitating awareness, 2) identifying opportunities for savings, 3) implementing action plans, and 4) keeping track of progress have been proven to change behavior in corporate environments.  Toyota started one such effort, and has more recently been championed by the US EPA. The Energy Treasure Hunt Guide: Simple Steps to Finding Energy Savings, January 2014, is the EPA's in-depth guide to accomplishing the four steps outlined above over a matter of days or weeks. Some of the corporate results to date include: 

  • "Since 2000, Energy Treasure Hunts have identified the majority of energy-reduction opportunities available to Toyota, and the company’s Environmental Action Plans incorporate these opportunities to achieve plant and corporate energy and greenhouse gas reduction goals." 
  • Energy treasure hunts at "Hanes brands to reduce energy costs by more than $4 million dollars in one year." 
  • "In less than two years, the Merck Energy Treasure Hunts had identified more than $12 million from just five plants, equivalent to 20 percent of the company’s greenhouse gas reduction goal, while building employee awareness and enthusiasm for finding energy waste." 
  • At one facility of Intertape Polymer Group: "The Energy Treasure Hunt proved to be an effective method for finding low-cost or no-cost energy saving opportunities. The Treasure Hunt participants identified over $218,000 in savings opportunities with a reduction of 1,200 metric tons of greenhouse gases. In addition, the participants identified several other longer-term opportunities for energy savings." 

Educational institutions have also made strides in this area. In the 1980's, UCLA students brought student-led campus energy audits to the mainstream with the aim of reducing environmental impact. Since then, numerous universities have implemented various practices for energy auditing, often with student involvement. Even high school and middle school students have been brought in as teams to investigate energy-saving opportunities. As stated by program managers at the State University of New York at Buffalo: 

Students who are motivated to evaluate the practices and policies of these various buildings and institutions learn more in one or two semesters about sustainability than in any other class. In that time they see for themselves in concrete terms what have mostly been abstract concepts about global warming, pollution, energy efficiency, etc. and the connections to politics, economics and the bottom line. At the same time, they learn how to take a project from start to finish, how to organize their work, how to work together in teams and how to work with people other than students and faculty. 

Clearly, many benefits have been demonstrated by these programs.